Sunday, January 25, 2009

What is Your Protein Requirement As A Ballet Dancer

I talk to both athletic (mostly ballet dancers) and non-athletic dieters frequently. It seems that both groups do not know how much protein they should eat every day, or every meal. If your goal is burning stored fat, cutting down on food intake should not be done carelessly. I am not a weight loss expert, but here is some general information to help you sort out your own dieting decisions.

After noticing recently that the subject of what is your protein requirement was being mentioned in many quarters around me, I got curious. We all know that protein is important, but we are also barraged with conflicting information in our culture, like the following:

*** eating too much meat is bad for you
*** soy is better than meat because it is lower in calories
*** fish is better than meat because it has better oils (omega 3 fatty acids)
*** don't eat fish more than twice a week because it is contaminated with mercury and other industrial chemicals
*** eating egg yolks raises your "bad" cholesterol levels
*** butter is just fat, don't eat it
*** killing animals and eating them is murder
*** even eating animal products like milk and eggs is abusive and we shouldn't

You see how crazy this can get, in terms of contradictions. Some of what I wrote above is true, but how and why? How do we find balance? We have indeed polluted our food sources with industrial chemicals, herbicides, pesticides and more. Slaughterhouses are indeed horribly cruel and do not need to be. All the "bad" can be changed.

Get the best food you can. Use a Body Mass Index calculator to determine your lean weight, and then a protein calculator to find out what your protein requirement is, based on your lean weight.

I did a search using Google with the phrase "protein intake for ballet dancers". I recommend that you read the first page of articles, all of them. I wanted to pick one, choosing a particular angle on this subject, but I didn't because it is a giant puzzle and the pieces need to be put together for you, by you.

If you choose a regimented diet where someone else makes the food, allowing you to have (artificial) sweets and (non-fat) carbs, with starch thickened non-fat sauces, I doubt you are eating anything close to your protein requirement. Also, these foods are not fresh, and who knows if they retain even ten percent of their vitamin and mineral content. So this route to weight loss is really starving yourself, and pretending that you're not. And when you starve yourself, your body will start dissolving itself to get the required nutrients in the right places in order to maintain. You WILL lose weight.

Your choice then might be to cut out ALL empty carbs, meaning white bread, pasta, crackers, potatoes, and of course sweets. That leaves you room for your protein requirement, or at least some more of it, in every meal or snack.

Fresh meats, poultry, eggs and fish are good for you, in general. Trim the fat from the meats and poultry. You will still ingest a small amount of animal fat, which your body requires to function. If you are eating salmon or tuna eat the fat and skin. Those have omega 3 fatty acids in them, which are also essential for health.

Some of the newer information about dieting is that changing calorie intake, a little, on a daily basis, is better for weight loss. Because your body can get used to anything, and will modify your metabolism to slow down when you eat fewer calories, you can trick it by not giving it the same number every day, so that there is no exact routine for it to get used to.

The goal of staying thin while getting your protein requirement, for a growing child or adult athletes and ballet dancers, and burning stored fat, is complex. Who has the time to become an expert?

Personally, I think you do. With the internet and all of the amazing information at hand, you can learn, gradually, what you need to know. I could write a book for every sentence I wrote in this article. Others already have, so I won't.

Investigate why egg yolks and butter are good for you. Investigate why artificially sweetened sodas make you crave carbs. Investigate why prepared foods full of MSG for flavor might be related to brain damage like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, or dementia and memory loss. Investigate the real deal on using soy as protein food.

If you are being treated for a disease, please follow your doctor's recommendations, but also keep looking for information for yourself. Figure out what is your protein requirement, learn about burning stored fat, and sort out your own dieting decisions.

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